Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring’s here…must be time for Cheese & Beer!

This past Wednesday we held the first of our springtime beer and cheese pairings – and our first class with our friends from Hamilton’s Tavern and Green Flash Brewing. It was an amazing class and we learned a lot about how San Diego’s favorite style – hopped up IPA – was developed, while sampling through the full lineup of its predecessors. It was great to learn about it from the perspective of Hamilton’s proprietor Scot Blair, a home brewer and all around beer geek, as well as from GFB’s master brewer Chuck Silva. We still have a few of the handouts left from the class and if you’re interested in obtaining a copy, just send an email to, or stop in and ask for one.

And looking ahead, next month we have our Springtime Beer & Cheese Pairings with O’Brien’s Pub. We’ve been collaborating with our friends Tom and Lindsey Nickel, owners of O’Brien’s, for more than 3 years and this round marks the 7th in our ongoing series. As always, we’ll hold one class at Taste and another at O’Brien’s. They always seem to fill up quickly – probably because they’re so much fun. If you’ve wanted to learn about beer and/or cheese, then these classes are definitely the way to go. Tom is one of the key players in San Diego’s burgeoning craft beer scene and O’Brien’s was recently voted one of the top 10 places for beer in the US. He’s joined by our favorite cheese monger George Palmer, and together, they inspire and entertain the class with their passion and knowledge for artisan cheese and craft beer.

Wednesday April 22nd, 7pm @ Taste (only 10 seats left)
Sunday April 26th, 6:30pm @ O’Brien’s Pub (only 22 seats left)

**Early Enrollment Special Offer**
Sign up for either the 4/22 or 4/26 class before 3/31 and your name will be entered into a drawing to help us select the menu of pairings for the class. Think you’re up to the task? Then sign up soon or you’ll miss out.

To enroll, send an email to, call the shop at (619) 683-2306 or visit Taste.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Preview of "The History of IPA" Class 3/24

Cheese Selection & 2 of the Featured Beers

Next week we're excited about hosting our first event with Scot Blair of San Diego beer mecca Hamilton's Tavern, and Chuck Silva, award-winning brewer from Green Flash Brewing Co. The class is called "The History of IPA" and I think you'll see from the pairings we have planned, it's a pretty extensive history and an ambitious menu.

Last Thursday we met with Scot and Hamilton's general manager Dennis Borlek to set the menu. And believe me, it was no small task given the intense flavors of the beers!

Some of the beers we considered

After tasting and debating pairings for a couple hours, we were all quite pleased with the 8 (yes, that is a lot!) pairings we selected for the class:

Flight One - English Pale Ale
Bass Pale Ale w/Cave-aged Gruyere
St. Peter’s Organic Ale w/4-mo Mahon

Flight Two - English India Pale Ale
Bellhaven Twisted Thistle w/Valdeon Blue
Meantime IPA w/Old Quebec 4yr Vintage Cheddar

Flight Three - American India Pale Ale
Anchor Liberty Ale w/Reblechon
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale w/Fiscalini 18-mo Cheddar

Flight Four - A New Generation
Green Flash West Coast IPA w/Purple Haze Stuffed Peppadew
Green Flash Imperial IPA w/Winchester Cumin Gouda

There are still a few seats left for this class, but it will fill up. If you're interested in attending, don't delay, call the shop (619-683-2306) today!

Taste Presents...
"The History of IPA"
w/Hamilton's Tavern & Green Flash Brewing Co.
Tuesday March 24th 6:30pm
@ Taste Artisan Cheese & Gourmet Shop

We hope to see you there!

A couple new favorites...

Le Wavreumont - tasted this beauty at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco this year. Love at first bite! Now admittedly, I'm a washed rind ho, but I wasn't the only one wowed by this raw cow's milk cheese from Mark Rosen at Fromagerie des Ardennes. A subtle, sweet aroma grows to aromatic and slightly funky. The strong flavor profile reminds one of Chimay, nutty and meaty, but with a sweet finish instead of bitter. And that finish is long...Yumm!

Blu di Langa - Does Mary take some mouth-watering photos or what? This new blue from the Piemonte region is one creamy, unctuous cheese. From Alta Langa, producers of La Tur and Robiola Bosina, this is a mixed milk cheese using cow, sheep and goat. Mild and runny, this will definitely appeal to those who think they don't like blue cheese, while providing that mixed milk richness that will please card carrying blueheads as well.

And just for fun, here's a shot of what we do in our spare time in the shop...cheese Pac Man!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wild Wild West - Class Notes

This past Wednesday evening we held our first Wild Wild West class which featured wines and cheeses from California, Washington & Oregon. It was a small but really fun group! Here are the pairings we featured...

First Flight:
Wine: Bethel Heights Pinot Blanc (2007, Willamette Valley, OR)
Cheese: Rogue River Blue (Rogue Creamery, Salem, OR)

This was a challenging way to start a tasting - with a blue! But it worked so well with the wine that we just had to go there!

Cardwell Hill Pinot Noir (2006, Willamette Valley, OR)
Cheese: Farmstead Brindisi (Willamette Valley Cheese Co, Willamette Valley,OR)

With and all-Oregon flight, we just had to feature a pinot noir! The Oregon pinots are similar to Burgundies in style - earthy and not as sweet as those from CA. The cheese is one of our favorites and we've used it now in 2 beer pairing classes and 2 wine classes. How's that for versatile?!

Second Flight:
Mason Sauvignon Blanc (2006, Napa Valley, CA)
M. Cosentino Cabernet Franc (2006, Napa Valley, CA)
Humboldt Fog (Cypress Grove Creamery, Arcata, CA)

Who doesn't love Humboldt Fog? It's one of our most popular cheeses and with good reason. The folks up at Cypress Grove Creamery in Arcata do a fantastic job with this and the other great cheeses they produce. We paired the Fog with a tangy Sauv Blanc from Napa. It's such a versatile cheese though, it also pairs well with big reds, ports and even sticky dessert wines.

Third Flight:
Wine: “The Last Straw” Isenhower Cellars Red Blend (2006, Columbia Valley, WA)
Cheeses: 18-Mo Bandage-Wrapped (Fiscalini Farms, Modesto, CA)
Flagship Reserve (Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Seattle, WA)

This was a fun flight! We squared off two of the finest cheddars made in the US and paired them with an excellent red blend from Washington's Columbia Valley. The Beecher's Flagship Reserve is buttery and rich, with notes of caramel. The Fiscalini 18mo is more like a traditional English cheddar - rich in texture and earthy in flavor. Beecher's took top US cheddar last year at the American Cheese Society. Fiscalini won top cheddar AND best in show at the '07 World Cheese Awards. On this night, the group was split right down the middle and in the end, it was a tie.

Fourth Flight:
Wine: Qupe Syrah (2007, Central Coast, CA)
Cheese: Point Reyes Blue (Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Point Reyes, CA)

Not only did we start with a blue, but we ended with one too - that was a first! For all you folks who think a blue is a blue is a blue - you're wrong. The Pt Reyes is tart, tangy and paired perfectly with the tooth-staining syrah from Qupe. The Rogue in the first flight would've been trampled to death by this wine.

This was a really fun class for George, me and apparently, all the students too! We look forward to meeting all you new folks at some of our upcoming classes. Check them out at